Tuesday, 31 January 2012

The North Pole?

One of the many places that have been recommended and put forward to me as a travellers' haven is Queenstown on the South Island of New Zealand. I am currently on the road heading that way and so will report back with my views in due course but I have the pleasure of introducing my first guest post, which is about Queenstown, written by David Traves, a children's story writer and good friend of mine. He's just set up a blog to document his own travels (he's based in Sydney for a year with his lovely girlfriend) so head over to read more about him. These are his photos too - aren't they stunning! Over to you Dave.

Just a couple of months ago I was enjoying what so far has been the most exciting leg of my journey: Queenstown.  

Queenstown in New Zealand south island is a tiny town that sits completely surrounded by majestic mountains on the shores of the crystal clear Lake Wakatipu, yet it has become the adventure and extreme sports capital of the world.  It is the ultimate contradiction; a place that is tranquil, relaxing and picturesque while at the same time hosting a never ending adrenaline fuelled party.

Many readers will have already visited Queenstown and many more will do so. Therefore I can only describe my own experience of the place.  The only comparison I could make that comes close to describing my feelings for the Queenstown is by comparing it to those story books and films where children find themselves in the North Pole complete with Santa’s grotto and elves.   That’s how excited I was to arrive in Queenstown. Adding to this festive scene was the inexplicable thick snow on the ground in December, which is the beginning of their summer.  

Now subtract elves and replace them with friendly Kiwis and massive migratory work force of young travellers and replace the children’s toys with everything a youngish adult might wish to find in their stocking and top it all off with spectacular views and you have Queenstown.

The streets are lined with small business selling everything from quiet canoe trips on placid waters to tandem sky dives and white water rafting.  You can also rent mountain bikes, motor bikes and quads.  You can take a jet boat ride down a canon with a driver who will pull 360’s narrowly avoiding the rocks on either side, while traveling at break neck speeds.  Gondolas make their way silently up the nearest mountain and a luge course snakes its way back down. Of course if you visit Queenstown in winter a whole different set becomes available including skiing and snowboarding.

I realise that not everyone wants to spend their whole holiday in a blur of mixed fear, excitement and adrenalin, but they shouldn’t be put off.   Although I loved the shotover jet ride, the luge and my trip to Frans Jozef to climb a glacier, I have to admit that I enjoyed the Onsen Hot Pools as much as anything else I did in New Zealand. 

There are still probably some readers thinking that my enthusiasm for Queenstown is just a personal quirk, my own eccentric choice of ideal travel destination and that it would pale in comparison to many more famous locations for nightlife.  While it’s true that although Queenstown is beautiful and over flowing with adventure London, New York or Bangkok it is not.  Queenstown is when all is said and done a small town of about ten thousand people, my home town of Shrewsbury is roughly seven times the size of central Queenstown.  However don’t think for one moment this means you will be getting second rate night life, I’ve been out in London, New York and Bangkok in the past year and tiny Queenstown holds its own.  Me and the girlfriend found ourselves downing shots in World bar, shooting pool in Cow Boy Bar, Shivering in Ice Bar and dancing in Altitude bar with our new buddies.  (Altitude bar is by the way the bar made famous by a certain England rugby captain and his ex while his princess was at home.) 

The choice of restaurants is no less impressive given Queenstown’s size Indian, Thai, Mexican and Italian are among few of the cuisines on offer.

In fact I’d like to end on the theme of food, so I will leave you with this if you do just one thing in Queenstown you could do a lot worse than just eating a Ferg burger! 

Thanks Dave for a thrilling write up of a thrilling place. My adrenaline has already started kicking through my veins... 

If you'd like to write a guest post for As the Bird flies about your travels or what inspires you to travel please do get in touch.


  1. Lovely photos! We stopped in at Queenstown a few years ago while traveling around the South Island and loved it! In fact, loved basically everything about the South Island. Hoping to head back to Queenstown this year so the man and friends can go skiing (I'll enjoy the quiet time). Thanks for the reminder of how lovely it is there.
    Bird - I realise you've probably got your plans all sorted already but if you get the chance to walk on Fox or Franz Jozef I highly recommend it.

    1. I think we're definitely going to do one of those so I'll let you know which one we go for. I would love to come back in winter to snowboard though will maybe upgrade to a hotel as it's already a bit nippy in our van at night and this is mid-summer...

      Bird x


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